YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The ongoing problems associated with COVID-19 don’t appear to be having a negative effect on Mahoning County’s finances.

Last year saw a significant boost in local sales taxes, even if shoppers weren’t getting out to the stores.

As Mahoning County commissioners held their annual reorganization meeting Monday morning, Carol Righetti was elected president for the new year. Auditor Ralph Meacham hinted the county ended 2021 in fairly good shape.

“A main test of where we are as a county is our sales tax receipts, and our sales tax receipts were up over last year and the year before — quite a bit healthier than I anticipated,” Meacham said.

Several years ago, Ohio lawmakers gave counties like Mahoning the ability to collect sales taxes on internet purchases. So even when the pandemic kept people from shopping at certain places, they could still buy things online, and the auditor says they did.

Although sales tax receipts run a couple of months behind, auditor’s records show that more than $43 million was collected in 2019. Before the pandemic hit, almost $44.5 million came in the next year, but last year’s collections jumped to nearly $51 million.

“That went quite well the last couple years, people stayed home and bought,” Meacham said.

Meacham believes the county’s real estate values continue to grow as well.

“Our real estate, in residential especially, their re-val or triennial valuation went up 16 percent in residential property last year,” Meacham said.

While the auditor promised to deliver a more detailed analysis of the county’s finances in a few weeks, he says the outlook is positive.